Before the few days of rain we had this week, the New River was settling into a steady winter level. The water was clear, and the morning temperatures sometimes dip below freezing. It's musky season.
The biggest victory, so far, has been getting Bailey on his first musky. On his first day of musky fishing, Bailey had a fish take his fly in the first 15 minutes or so of casting and didn't get a hookup. Musky are such magnificent, striking fish that I can't blame him. It's almost not fair to give someone their first serious musky encounter that quickly. Just seeing one will shake you up and get your knees buckling. The next day, we found an active fish, Bailey fed him the fly, and I got to net a beautiful 36" musky for him to remember forever. Just as notable as his first musky was Bailey's first walleye, which, between musky encounters, took a 12" musky fly and taped out at 29"!
Ben from Roanoke also came down to fish last week, and had a heartbreaker of a lost fish boat-side--again, about 15 minutes into the trip.
Between it all, I did manage to get myself a nice fish, on the front end of this cold front that dumped an inch and a half of rain into the rivers. About a quarter of the way back to the boat, my fly ticked something. Presumably the shelfy, rock bottom of the river. But you never know. I set the hook with a hard strip, and the fly rocketed towards the boat and up in the water column to suspend just below the surface in full view of everyone in the boat. Just as soon as I had written off the possibility of a fish, a 38" musky nailed it right below the surface. Definitely one of the cooler musky eats I've gotten to see.
Apart from musky, the wild trout of the southwest Virginia mountain streams offer some fantastic fishing this time of year, and I'll be running a lot of trout trips between now and mid-spring. Interestingly, my last three trout trips have been with groups of really passionate women, which is awesome to see.
Get in touch with me to get on the calendar during the cold months. I look forward to fishing with you!